By Charles W. Brewster
Editors Note: C.W. Brewster was a Portsmouth columnist in the mid-1800's. This article includes his opinions and may not reflect current research or current values.
The oldest house now
standing, built in Portsmouth, is the quaint brick house on the Week's
farm in Greenland. This is no blunder, although it may seem like one - for
at the time that house was built, Greenland was a part of Portsmouth. We
can find no written record of the year of its being built, but a family
tradition dates its erection in 1638, by the father of Leonard Weeks.
Leonard was born not far from that time, and had four sons, John born
1668, Samuel born 1670, Joseph born 1671, John born 1674, Mary and
Margaret. From Samuel the present owner of the farm descended.
The house was built on the main road - but the straightening of the road half a century ago, throws it on a circular lane several rods on the side. The speckled appearance of the house is made by having black headers scattered among the bricks all over the front. The bricks were burnt in front of the house. The walls of the house are eighteen inches thick. It is of two stories; the lower story is 8 1-2 feet, the second 8 feet. The windows were originally of small diamond glass set in lead. Some of them have been in the house within the last fifty years. The timbers used throughout the house and for the roof are all of hard wood. The beams in the cellar are squared 12 by 14 inches. The sleepers are of red oak, about 10 inches in diameter, with the bark on. There are planks on the inside of the walls, and the plastering is on reft wood nailed to the plank. There are marks of the house being injured by an earthquake, probably in 1755. If tradition is correct, this is the oldest house in New England, being 228 years old.
In the old records we find that "On the 8th of Oct. 1663, at a meeting of the Selectmen (of Portsmouth,) at Greenland to lay out the hiways from Winecote river falls east or there aboutes to Samuel Haines house and from thence the hiway is to run to Hampton hiway where it now lies by Frances Drake field which is now enclosed, these hiways is to be two rod in breadth.
" There is also a hiway lade out over against Leonard Weeks house and is to go through his land south and by west or there abouts until it comes to the common land."
The same year a contract was made for making a foot and horse path through Great Swamp.
It is probable that the early connection with Strawberry Bank was by the river. The house was evidently built as a sort of garrison, with a view of safety from being burnt by the Indians.
Feb. 4, 1660, we find
"Leonard Weikes'" account for town services allowed. In 1662, he was a
selectman of Portsmouth.
Photo from 1949 tourist publication by the NH Seacoast Regional Development Association. Page copyright 2002 SeacoastNH.com.
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